Tuesday was the first day of school.
It was more than a little bittersweet to me. This was the first summer in Oregon I didn’t spend home with the boys, and I feel almost like the whole season almost passed me by. When you don’t get home until 5:30 and jump straight into frantically cooking dinner for hangry children, bedtime and nighttime and getting up to get ready for work the next morning is on you before you know it.
On the other hand, Oregon did her best to make it feel as summery as possible to try to make up for it, so maybe fall isn’t such a bad thing. We had almost no rain from May on, and the whole state seems dry and crackly. Local parks lost quite a few older trees due to the overly dry summers, and the ground feels hard-baked beneath my feet.
I may not be ready for the return of the rain, but the land certainly is, and I can’t begrudge it the moisture.
Anyways, as I was saying, Tuesday was the first day of school which always makes me feel more than a little nostalgic. I remember lining up in front of my mom’s camera with its shutterclick sound, bright flash, and the roll of film that would wind itself up at the end of every spool. First day of school pictures are a yearly tradition.
As I dragged everyone outside into the nicer light to take my own pictures, DragonMonkey dutifully dropped his backpack on the ground and walked over to the designated picture-taking area. “Why do we have to do this every year?”
“Because….. because it makes a nice collage when you’re all done. I can see how you looked at the beginning of each year. I have first day pics of me, all the way up until my first day of college.
He lined up in front of the wall in front of our house, and reached for his yellow piece of construction paper with the hastily-written words in cheap marker. “If we’re… if we’re still doing this in college, do you think that maybe…. I mean, not to hurt your feelings, but maybe we could get nicer signs instead of paper?”
Present Becky is always willing to make promises on Future Becky’s behalf, so I was quick to agree. Future Becky would totally make one of those awesome, color-coordinated, sturdy Pinterest-style signs.
Future Becky is a chump.
I raised my cell phone, and DragonMonkey threw on his customary closed-mouth smirk smile that he always does for pictures, the one that makes him look disturbingly teenagerish.
After that it was Squid’s turn – I say Squid because that’s what I’ve called him on this blog since the beginning (when he was a Squidgelet), but he’s recently informed us that we are not to refer to him by that nickname anymore. In fact, we are not to refer to him by any nicknames. He will only respond to his full name.
I raised my cell phone, and he tilted his head back, looking at me with the heavy-lidded cool-dude expression he always likes to don for pictures.
“Squid, can’t you open your eyes a little bit more? I can barely see your eyes. You don’t have to smile if you don’t want to, but just open your eyes a little mo—“
“Bus,” intoned the Bean. “BUS!”
I snapped another picture in desperation:
And then kissed them as they dashed down the street, their backpacks rising and falling with each stride.
Like I said, first days of school always makes me feel nostalgic, and as I drove to work my brain rattled down familiar roads. Am I doing enough, as a mom? Am I being there enough, helping enough, loving enough, challenging and pushing enough, educating enough? Am I screwing any of them up? Have I already screwed them up beyond repair? Will they turn into adults I actually like, ones I am proud of? What can I improve on?
It was that last thought that trapped my brain. If you have multiple children, it’s not an easy answer. Every kid is unique. Even if I could wave a magic wand and change myself, each of my kids would want something different from me.
If DragonMonkey could reshape me, I think he’d turn me into the quintessential Pinterest mom. I’d rise before dawn in a wrinkle-free, coordinated outfit, and cook a couple of pounds of bacon and pancakes. I’d wake him with a hug and a tickle and invite him to feast while I washed all the breakfast dishes myself, and then he would get dressed and I’d spend the rest of the day chauffeuring him around to new experiences. Our days would be scheduled, right down to the minute, and there would be few surprises. Everything would be planned out (well in advance) with professional-looking calendars and well-packed gym bags for soccer games and playdates (are they still called playdates at his age? Probably not.) Upon returning home I’d miraculously produce a hearty, healthy, meat-and-vegetable dinner within minutes. After dinner we would play a light round of video games.
It sounds exhausting, but he would be so, so content.
Also, he would want me to have super long, super straight hair. I dunno. It’s just a thing with him.
What would Squid want?
Squid would want me to be Elsa:
only I’d be Elsa with a machine gun.
It be only me and him, no other siblings around, and we would have amazing adventures where we would shoot guns and rappel down walls and help people. At the end of each adventure he would heroically save us all, and most likely I would present him with a nightly medal he could hang on his wall. We’d feast all day on ice cream and sodas and candy.
My hair would also be long, and I would never cut it, because cutting hair is pretty much the same as ruining everything about yourself forever and ever. I’d be a crack shot with a rifle, and always have on fresh lipstick.
I’m not gonna lie, aside from the whole makeup thing and wearing a dress, I think I’d have a lot of fun in Squid’s World.
If I’m being honest, the twins would probably love to change me too. Finn’s imaginary mom is the easiest to understand – I didn’t even have to think very hard to know what he would want.
Finn would very much like it if I could stop being me, and just figure out a way to be The Bean, except with boobies.
He would be SO content if I could just figure out a way to make this happen. Also, my/ Bean’s boobies would still be producing copious amounts of milk that never ran out, and Finn would still be able to nurse all day. The two of them would live on a tractor, alternating all day between nursing and doing tractor-type stuff.
I’m pretty sure if Finn was in charge of heaven, that’s all it would be: Heavily-lactating, giant-boobed men on a variety of different tractors.
You can see why I’d rather be stuck in Squid’s world, right?
Magpie is a harder nut to crack, because she’s so quiet with her wants. I know she would like to have Mommy/daughter time without any pesky brothers around. In her imaginary mom world I would be a fashion diva, and we would both dress up constantly.
Please understand that by dress up I don’t mean we would wearing tasteful evening gowns with sensible heels – oh no. Magpie’s version of dressing up consists of layering accessories upon accessories… and also, do you know what makes an accessory really pop? Another accessory.
The two of us would adorn ourselves like real-life Fancy Nancies:
and then we would spend quite a bit of time just sitting around pointing out each other’s amazing outfits. Earrings. Yes, earrings. I am wearing earrings. You have sparkly shoes. Yes, yes you do. I do, too.
We would admire each other’s glasses, frequently.
Wherever we went each day, it would not be in a car pointed in the direction of home, because oh lawsie, “NOT DAT WAY. NOT DAT WAY. NO HOME… NOT DAT WAY.” She’s an adventuring sort at heart.
She’s not very particular about what we would do, provided we do it together, but if I had to come up with something I think we would spend the entire day swinging on swings at the park, trying on different pairs of shoes, and maybe riding a pony. We’d have a collection of items we dragged around, from Purple Bow Dog to Rattle Elephant, and we would very systematically rearrange them around ourselves wherever we went.
We would hold hands, a lot. We’d practice number facts, and sing the ABC’s and “Tinka Tinka Widdah Stah” over, and over, and over. And over.
And over, and over, and over, and over.
Also, we would feast on .99 cent bagged salad from Safeway, because she’s kind of weird that way.
Maybe it’s for the best that the kids can’t rearrange me to suit their desires… It’s exhausting just imagining it.
In other news: Reverie isn’t coming home until closer to the end of the month, which I’m thrilled about. I can definitely use another week or so to get things ready for her.